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Ronan Guilfoyle: Rhythm Book/Essays

See the links below for an overview of Ronan's groundbreaking book on expanding the rhythmic language of jazz. Included are sample lessons, musician's comments and links to where you can buy it. There are are some essays here too, for more see my blog

Creative Rhythmic Concepts for Jazz Improvisation

This publication is the first of its kind to clearly explain the most recent developments in jazz rhythmic techniques. Intended for use by all instruments, it explains clearly how to go about developing and exploring one's rhythmic technique and how to use these sophisticated techniques in a jazz context. Areas discussed include

Metric Modulation
Odd Metres
Bulgarian music
South Indian Tala system
Multiple subdivision
Odd meter polyrhythms
Odd meter modulation.

Each technique is clearly explained and clearly notated and the accompanying CD acts as both a demonstration of the various concepts, and as a playalong CD. There is a comprehensive listening list included in the book as well as 6 compositions that demonstrate the different techniques outlined in the book.

You can purchase the book by clicking on the 2CO button below Inc. (Ohio, USA) is an authorized retailer for

goods and services provided by Ronan Music.
PLEASE NOTE!! The new 3rd Edition has just been printed and is now available for purchase Thanks!

Creative Rhythmic Concepts for Jazz Improvisation - Sample Lesson - Metric Modulation

Creative Rhythmic Concepts for Jazz Improvisation

Sample Lesson: Lesson 5, Metric Modulation

A sample lesson and audio clip from the book Creative Rhythmic Concepts for Jazz Improvisation by Ronan Guilfoyle (© 2000 Newpark Music).

What is Metric modulation?

Metric modulation is the modulation of the original metre, either upwards to a faster tempo or downwards to a slower tempo, using a subdivision of the original pulse to decide the speed of the modulation. The mechanics of the process are as follows:

1) Subdivide the original pulse into smaller or larger pulses.
2) Reorganise these pulses into regular groupings, so that the impression of a new tempo or metre is created.

However it should be stressed that at no time during Examples 9 -17 does a real new tempo come into existence, only the impression of a new tempo is created. This "new" tempo maintains a strict relationship to the original pulse at all times. This type of metric modulation is a very common one, and is probably one that you have done yourself at times. A simple example of metric modulation is the technique of "double time" and "half time". When we go to double or half time we maintain a strict relationship to the original pulse and the changes go by at the original speed. This is metric modulation. In double time the modulation speeds up, and in half time the modulation slows down. The technique of metric modulation can be used extremely effectively to create tension and release, and to provide variety and contrast within a piece.

In the written part of the examples, everything is written out rhythmically only. On the two stave system, the bottom stave represents the original pulse and the top stave represents the modulation. On the top stave, the dotted line represents the bar line of the new suggested pulse.

All of these subdivisions are of 4 or 8 bar lengths. The reason for this is that as jazz musicians we are used to dealing with tunes constructed from these numbers of bars and when dealing with an unfamiliar concept like metric modulation it is good to have something to relate to. However I must stress that modulations can last for any length of time and, like substitute chord changes, are completely at the discretion of the improviser.

In all of these examples, when the bass and drums modulate to the new tempo, both instruments accentuate beats 2 and 4 of the bar in the normal jazz manner. All of these examples are of swinging time but there are of course other ways of modulating with different feels.
The basic process of these modulations is as follows. Take the original pulse and subdivide it, (such as into quarter note triplets as in example 9), and then, treating each single unit of the subdivision as a quarter note, regroup these subdivisions into 4, thus creating the impression of a new tempo but in reality being part of the original tempo.

Example 9: 6 bars modulated pulse = 4 bars original pulse. Modulation: 3 over 2

Click here to listen to Example 9 in MP3 format. Inc. (Ohio, USA) is an authorized retailer for

goods and services provided by Ronan Music.

Creative Rhythmic Concepts for Jazz Improvisation - Musicians' Comments

My Blog!

I've started writing an occasional blog - it will deal for the most part with musical stuff. I'm treating it as a kind of musical diary - stuff that strikes me in the course of my musical day, things that I find interesting or annoying, or fascinating, or wonderful, or baffling - things that I talk about with other musicians. Hopefully you'll find something there that might interest you - adn please feel free to comment!
- My Blog! (Mar 21, 2009)

The Rhythm Book – 10 Years Later……….

"Where's The 1!?"

The Art and Science of Time II

Contemporary Music?

What is Jazz?

The Art and Science of Time

Philosophy of Jazz?

Control Freaks?

Composition and Improvisation

Interview with Ronan